WCOOP 2013: Stephen "stevie444" Chidwick goes wire-to-wire, wins gold in Event #29, $320 PL Badugi

Badugi is far from the most widely spread game in poker, but it has a dedicated core of enthusiasts who are always willing to play. Even if it isn't the most prominent game, Badugi has provided for some memorable WCOOP moments for some well-known players since its introduction to the schedule in 2009, including bracelets for Mike "GoLeafsGoEh" Leah, John "jmonnett" Monnette, and Ray "raydavis77" Davis, plus deep runs by Team PokerStars Pro's Chad Brown, Greg "FossilMan" Raymer, and Kevin "ImALuckSac" MacPhee.

The last tournament on today's schedule was this year's Badugi event, sporting a $320 buy-in and, for the time in WCOOP history, a pot-limit format. It started off at 2 p.m. ET and by the time late registration closed had drawn a field of 279 entrants, down slightly from last year but still enough to crush the $50K guarantee with an $83,700 prize pool. The top prize was set at $16,321.58 and after nine hours of play just these eight players were still in contention for it:

Seat 1: Mikhail "Mikleler" Semin (183,317 in chips)
Seat 2: ManiacRazor (5,581 in chips)
Seat 3: Sebastian "Seb86" Sabic (240,988 in chips)
Seat 4: Puppen87 (111,323 in chips)
Seat 5: atlantic17 (58,828 in chips)
Seat 6: nilsef (229,200 in chips)
Seat 7: Stephen "stevie444" Chidwick (353,054 in chips)
Seat 8: BRAZZMONKEY (212,709 in chips)

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Night of the living short stacks

Denmark's ManiacRazor lost a huge pot on Table 3 while Mark "The Omaholic" Roland was being knocked out on the other table in 9th place ($1,674). ManiacRazor held 7♥ 6♠ 3♣ 2♦ but couldn't beat the 7♠ 5♥ 3♦ A♣ held by the Stephen "stevie444" Chidwick, so the Dane came to the final table with just a stack of just 5.5K. Meanwhile Chidwick, a SCOOP champion who had finished 3rd in one WCOOP event back in 2010, had 323K and a 28-big-blind advantage over the next largest stack in play.

Just staying alive was going to be a challenge for ManiacRazor, but the German got a start in the big blind on Hand #3 by taking one card on the first draw and then standing pat with 7♠ 5♦ 3♥ A♣, which held up for an 11.1K-chip pot as Mikhail "Mikleler" Semin twice drew a single card but ended up with 9♠ 4♥ 2♥ 3♣. That kept ManiacRazor out of the fire for the moment. Just three hands later the next shortest stack would also double up; neither Poland's atlantic17 nor Germany's BRAZZMONKEY was able to make a badugi after taking a single card on all three draws, so atlantic17's J♠ 5♦ 4♠ A♣ for took the 103K-chip pot with a 5-4-A three-card against BRAZZMONKEY's 7-5-3 with 7♣ 5♥ 3♠ 2♥. Two hands after that ManiacRazor doubled to 20.3K, standing pat through all three draws with K♣ T♥ 8♠ A♦ and seeing it hold up when stevie444 couldn't make a badugi.

Instead of one of the short stacks departing, Mikleler would be the first take a walk. He three-bet to 40K in the cutoff on Hand #13 after Stephen Chidwick opened for 14K in middle position, then stood pat on the first draw after Chidwick called and took one card. Chidwick then checked after the first draw and let Mikleler bet 56K into the 86K pot before raising to 254K, more than enough to put him all in. Mikleler made the call and both players stood pat on the last two draws. Chidwick turned up T♦ 6♠ 4♥ 3♣, just good enough against Mikleler's J♣ 9♥ 3♠ 2♦ to take the 341K in the middle and send the Russian player home in 8th place ($2,092.50).

ManiacRazor was able to double up twice in the next three hands, both against atlantic17. The first was to 43K after being dealt T♥ 6♣ 3♠ A♦ and standing pat against atlantic17, who also stood pat the whole way with Q♠ J♣ T♦ 5♥. Two hands later the German doubled through the Pole once again, standing pat through all three draws with 8♦ 7♣ 5♥ 4♠ and beating out atlantic17's three-card Q♣ 5♣ 3♠ A♦.

In between those two hands came the biggest pot of the final table so far, which Norway's Puppen87 opened from the hijack seat with a 15K bet. Stephen Chidwick re-raised to 50K from the small blind and then BRAZZMONKEY four-bet to 165K; Puppen87 got out of the way, Chidwick made the fifth bet, and BRAZZMONKEY called all-in for 179K total. Both Chidwick and BRAZZMONKEY took one card on all three draws, but BRAZZMONKEY's T♦ 5♣ 2♥ A♠ badugi was good for the 374K-chip pot against Chidwick's 5♥ 3♦ 2♠ A♥ three-card.

Hands #24 and #28 saw the short-stack survival theme continue. First atlantic17 got all-in for 28K before the first draw against Stephen Chidwick, who stood pat on all three draws with K♥ 9♣ 8♦ 7♠. atlantic17 took one card one the first draw and missed but stood pat after the second draw to show down the stone cold nuts with 4♥ 3♦ 2♣ A♠. Then ManiacRazor completed an improbable comeback after four-betting all-in for 78K and standing pat the whole way with J♣ 8♦ 5♥ A♠; Puppen87 couldn't make a badugi and ended up with a tantalizingly close three-card in 6♥ 3d] 2♥ A♣, so the 162K-chip pot went to ManiacRazor.

Puppen87 had ben left with just 31K in chips after that loss and the next round of blinds took the Norwegian player down to 23K. On Hand #37 that would all go in the middle, all but 6K before the first draw, against Stephen Chidwick, who took two cards on the first draw but then stood pat with a 8♣ 6♦ 5♠ 4♥ badugi. Puppen87 held a sumptuous A♣ 2♦ 3♥ through all three draws but never made a badugi, ending the hand with the 2♣ to exit the tournament in 7th place ($2,511).

The next few orbits were dominated by blind-stealing and three-betting to win pots before the first draw, but Hand #51 finally saw some action. atlantic17 opened for 18K in the hijack seat and was raised to 36K by Germany's nilsef from the cutoff. Then BRAZZMONKEY made the fourth bet for 75K and atlantic17 called all-in for 49K total; nilsef thought for a bit but ultimately folded, leaving the two German players heads-up for the 141K-chip pot. They both drew one card on all three draws and atlantic17 got there on the last one, turning up 7♦ 6♥ 4♣ 3♠ to beat BRAZZMONKEY's three-card 6♠ 4♠ 2♦ A♥.

ManiacRazor cut short

Six hands later ManiacRazor was in the big blind and called BRAZZMONKEY's small blind raise to start what looked like another innocuous pot, but things quickly went awry:

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After surviving with the short stack for so long, ManiacRazor drew a badugi with a big stack but was outdrawn by an even bigger stack. That sent the 396K-chip pot to BRAZZMONKEY and ManiacRazor out in 6th place ($3,348).

A lull and two knockouts

The last five players proceeded to dance around one another from there and the next 40-plus hands mostly saw the rich get richer. BRAZZMONKEY picked up enough pots to move over 600K but dropped back down to 501K on Hand #102 after three-betting Stephen Chidwick and folding to Chidwick's four-bet before the first draw, bringing the two to within less than two big blinds of each other.

Two hands later they clashed again. BRAZZMONKEY raised the minimum to 14K under the gun and Chidwick called; then Chidwick drew one, BRAZZMONKEY stood pat, and Chidwick check-called a 24.5K bet before taking one card on the second draw. BRAZZMONKEY stood pat one more, both players checked, and they both stood pat on the final draw. Chidwick fired out a pot-sized bet of 80.5K on the final betting round and BRAZZMONKEY made the call, but the German player mucked as Chidwick showed 9♣ 5♥ 2♠ A♦ and raked in the 241K-chip pot.

The action kept up on Hand #110 when BRAZZMONKEY opened for 14K under the gun and then raised the size of the pot after the Sebastian "Seb86" Sabic three-bet to 52.5K. That was enough to put Sabic all-in and he made the call without hesitation, holding on to 5♦ 3♥ 2♣ and drawing one card; BRAZZMONKEY took one, and then both players took one on the second draw. But BRAZZMONKEY stood pat with 5♥ 4♠ 3♣ 2♦ on the third draw and Sabic finished with a 8♥ 5♦ 3♥ 2♣ three-card. BRAZZMONKEY scooped up the 294K in chips and Sabic was gone in 5th place ($4,603.50).

The last remaining short stack at the table now was atlantic17. The Polish player was in the big blind for 7K on Hand #112 and had another 78K left behind, all of which went in the middle before the first draw after Stephen Chidwick opened for 24.5K. atlantic17 stood pat the entire way with a Q♣ 7♠ 6♦ 2♥ badugi, while Chidwick drew one card on both the first two draws before standing pat on the third. His badugi was better at 9♠ 7♥ 3♣ A♦, winning the 168K in the middle and sending atlantic17 to the rail in 4th place ($6,696).

Two more to go

The field was now down to three, with blinds at 4K/8K and the chips distributed like so:

Seat 6: nilsef (183,929 in chips)
Seat 7: Stephen "stevie444" Chidwick (696,387 in chips)
Seat 8: BRAZZMONKEY (514,684 in chips)

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BRAZZMONKEY set the tone for the next portion of the final table by seizing the chip lead on the first hand of what would prove to be a lengthy session of three-handed play:

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The majority of pots from there were won by either BRAZZMONKEY or Stephen Chidwick, but Germany's nilsef, a past WCOOP winner, managed to pick enough blinds to tread water in search of a good opportunity to double up. Meanwhile the two big stacks pummeled each other, with Chidwick moving into a sizable lead before BRAZZMONKEY won a 268K-chip pot against him on Hand #146 to trim the deficit down to about 12 big blinds. Seven hands later nilsef ended up all-in for 113K after four bets before the first draw and stood pat on 8♣ 4♠ 3♥ 2♦; Chidwick took one card on the first draw and then stood pat with T♦ 8♠ 3♣ 2♥, sending the pot to nilsef.

The three players now began to circle around one another warily and the action slowed down. There wasn't another showdown until the 5K/10K blind level and Hand #171, when nilsef's 5-4-2 three-card beat out BRAZZMONKEY's 6-5-2 for 108K, but that paled in comparison to the pot nilsef won on the next hand:

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nilsef was now in the lead with a 539K stack, which would jump to 760K on Hand #195 after standing pat on all three draws with T♦ 9♥ 4♠ 2c] and outlasting BRAZZMONKEY's three attempts to make a badugi. Two hands later, though, came the real balance-shifter.

BRAZZMONKEY opened with a minimum raise to 20K and Stephen Chidwick called from the big blind. Chidwick took two cards on the first draw and BRAZZMONKEY took one; Chidwick checked, BRAZZMONKEY bet 45K, and Chidwick came back with a check-raise to 180K before calling off 48K more all-in when BRAZZMONKEY made a third bet. This was all despite neither player having a made hand; both had very strong three-card hands and took one card apiece on both the second and third draws but were unable to made badugis. Chidwick's 3-2-A three-card was the next best thing, beating out BRAZZMONKEY's 4-2-A for the 502K-chip pot.

The German player was now the short stack but wasn't going down without a fight. Another unimproved three-card hand was good enough to double through nilsef on Hand #209; six hands later BRAZZMONKEY was in second place after Stephen Chidwick lost out on a 361K-chip pot by folding to a nilsef all-in bet after the second draw. nilsef was over 800K and would maintain that position until Hand #241, when another three-card hand wasn't improved after three draws and lost out to the K♥ T♣ 6♦ 4♠ Chidwick stood pat on the whole way. That dropped nilsef to 532K and boosted Chidwick into a narrow lead with 574K.

Another 31 hands would pass, mostly through small pots with an occasional larger, uncontested pot in the mix, before BRAZZMONKEY made a final stand. Stephen Chidwick opened the betting for 30K on the button, BRAZZMONKEY re-raised to 102K, Chidwick made the fourth bet for 318K total, and then BRAZZMONKEY raised 8.4K more to move all-in for 326K. Chidwick called and stood pat on 9♦ 7♣ 6♥ 5♠, while BRAZZMONKEY held on to 7♥ 2♦ A♠ and tried three times to draw a badugi. In the end the German player accomplished that goal, albeit with the K♣ to lose out on the 664K-chip pot and finish in 3rd place ($9,207).

Heads-up for the gold

The tournament was now down to a past WCOOP champion and a past SCOOP champ who had come close but never broken through in WCOOP, with blinds at 6K/12K and the stacks looking like so:

Seat 6: nilsef (565,658 in chips)
Seat 7: Stephen "stevie444" Chidwick (829,342 in chips)

Chidwick won the first four pots of the heads-up match and seven of the first 10, though the largest was only worth 144K and was immediately countered by a 120K-chip pot for his opponent. The ratio of wins got closer to even over the next 10 hands as Chidwick won six of them, but the last of them was the one that made all the difference.

The hand started innocently enough with nilsef raising to 24K on the button, Chidwick calling from the big blind, and both players taking two cards on the first draw. They both checked and took two more cards apiece on the second draw - and after that is when the betting exploded. Chidwick checked to see a bet of 36K from nilsef, then check-raised to 120K; nilsef responded with a three-bet to 408K before calling all-in for a total of 475K. Chidwick had made a badugi with 8♥ 6♦ 5♠ A♣ and stood pat, leaving nilsef with a final chance to improve, but the German player showed down 5♣ 4♠ 2♥ 2♠ for a three-card 5-3-2 to bring the tournament to a close.

The late run put nilsef in position to vie for a second career WCOOP bracelet, but the German player settled for a nice payday of $12,136.50. As for Stephen "stevie444" Chidwick, who held on for a wire-to-wire win, his first WCOOP title was worth $16,321.58 and a nifty gold bracelet to go along with his SCOOP champion's watch.

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Stephen "stevie444" Chidwick, WCOOP 2013's Badugi champion

Congratulation to Mr. Chidwick on the win! He now joins the ranks of players eligible for the elusive Triple COOP, needing a TCOOP title to become the first player to win tournaments in all three COOP series - if somebody else doesn't get there first in the next few weeks.

WCOOP 2013: Event #29, $320 PL Badugi
279 entrants
$83,700 prize pool
40 places paid

1st place: Stephen "stevie444" Chidwick (United Kingdom) $16,321.58
2nd place: nilsef (Germany) $12,136.50
3rd place: BRAZZMONKEY (Germany) $9,207
4th place: atlantic17 (Poland) $6,696
5th place: Sebastian "Seb86" Sabic (United Kingdom) $4,603.50
6th place: ManiacRazor (Denmark) $3,348
7th place: Puppen87 (Norway) $2,511
8th place: Mikhail "Mikleler" Semin (Russia) $2,092.50

Jason Kirk is a freelance contributor to PokerStars Blog.

Jason Kirk
@PokerStarsBlog in WCOOP